Sunday, October 28, 2012

Countdown to Halloween Day 28 -- Not Your Parents' Munsters: A Review of "Mockingbird Lane"

When I first heard about , Bryan Fuller's re-imagining of The Munsters, named Mockinbird Lane after their street address, I was not exactly enamored of the idea, never having been a big Munsters fan. However, I have loved most everything Bryan Fuller has been involved with (Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, the all-to-short-lived Wonderfalls), so I was willing to give it a chance.  As more information about the project was released, the more excited I got, until I was actually depressed when it was announced that NBC was not picking the pilot up.  The subsequent news that they would at least be airing the pilot prior to Halloween lifted my spirits, since now I would at least be able to see the full show, and there was a slim chance that its ratings might be big enough to justify a series order after all.

The plot of the Mockingbird Lane pilot follows the Muster clan as they relocate to a new home in a new city after young Eddie has his first werewolf outbreak while camping with his old scout group.  While Eddie is aware that his parents and grandfather are all out of the ordinary, he believes that he is perfectly normal like his cousin Marilyn, and most of the episode is spend with Herman and Lilly debating on whether to fill in the gaps in Eddie's memory from his lycanthropic episode, since he doesn't remember a thing. Meanwhile, Grandpa Munster is determined to stop tip-toeing around the topic and help Eddie embrace his supernatural heritage; Grandpa is also tired of "not drinking," and keeps pushing against the constraints his daughter and son-in-law are trying to place on him.  When Herman's heart -- his last original organ -- begins to fail, Grandpa sees an opportunity to use that need to convince Herman to let him feed on a viable candidate.

The first thing to keep in mind when watching the pilot of Mockingbird Lane is that it takes a sort of Battlestar Gallactica approach to its source material, keeping names and the bare minimum premise, but revamping it into something that is barely recognizable.  For some this could be a detriment; for others, a move in the right direction, depending on your attachment to the original series and how receptive you might be to the new show's distinctive tone.  For me, the show's dark and twisty sensibility, which featured some nicely gruesome moments, made me a fan.  While I know some critics decried its shifting tone, I felt that it actually had a pretty singular vision, and that while it walked the line between comedy and horror, it never veered so far one was or the other that I felt pulled out of the story.  I don't know if there's any chance for Mockingbird Lane to go to series now, but I for one would be ecstatic if it did.

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